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Newmarket's Main Street speed limit drops to 30 km/h during patio season

'We can’t close the street, so we’re trying to do whatever we can for people to feel safe, and enjoy their time on the patios,' area councillor says
A Town of Newmarket bylaw officer is seen here on July 1, 2020 patrolling Main Street. Greg King for NewmarketToday

In the Town of Newmarket’s latest move to help struggling small businesses recover from the financial crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the speed limit on Main Street today was temporarily lowered to 30 km/h, from the usual 40 km/h.

“What was happening was a lot of people took it a bit more than 40 km/h and it didn’t feel comfortable having drivers fly by,” said Councillor Bob Kwapis, who represents constituents in the area. “We can’t close the street, so we’re trying to do whatever we can for people to feel safe, and enjoy their time on the patios.”

Some residents have commented recently on social media that it is becoming increasingly difficult to walk, physically distanced, on Main Street due to the heavy pedestrian traffic and crowds on all the patios that have popped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, since only outdoor dining is permitted at this point in the Ontario government’s reopening plan.

Bylaw officers are now patrolling Main Street daily to proactively enforce parking and to monitor patios.

"We have not observed this trend, but we will continue to monitor it," a bylaw department spokesperson said. "We’re pleased by the overall vigilance of the community, but also recognize there are exceptions. We ask that residents be patient, take the time and give each other the distance we all need to feel and be safe."  

In a June 25 notice, the town issued some pointers on sidewalk etiquette on Main Street due to the expansion of downtown patios.

Residents are reminded to follow safe sidewalk etiquette rules on posted signage to ensure physical distancing can be maintained.

Here are the pointers to help stop the spread of COVID-19:

  • Walk in single file and on the right side of the sidewalk.
  • If someone is approaching from the opposite direction, stop and wait for an opening of at least six feet before proceeding.
  • Stay focused. Consider letting less agile or older people pass first.
  • If you are walking your dog, shorten the leash when necessary. If the leash is stretched, it can make it hard to pass and it can become a tripping hazard.
  • No cycling, rollerblading or skateboarding on the sidewalk. If possible, please dismount or take an alternate route.